Ward House

Tincture & Salves

Wednesday night, before heading out to class, the plan was to harvest yarrow for a salve.  Instead I harvested plantain from the yard.  When my girls inquired, they commented on how odd it was that I was picking ‘bananas’.  Next came the explanation of which kind of plantain was being harvested.

These were cleaned and allowed to dry while I was away.  Ronnie is so good natured.  He was coming home from work as I was headed to class; I asked him to ignore the bag and colander of ‘weeds’ that were on the counter. Sadly, he is not susceptible to the Jedi hand wave thingy and instead I got the ‘omg, what have you brought into the kitchen now’ look.  I could just squeeze his cheeks!  (Sorry honey.  Had to say it!)

My original Yarrow salve idea came from two tutorials found here.  Currently plantain is brewing, perhaps tonite, along with blackberry picking, I’ll get some yarrow started.

How To Make An Herbal Tincture

Harvest the herb in its proper season (refer to herb-specific material for that time). Tear or chop herb parts into about one inch pieces. Pack very tightly into a glass jar to the top. Fill jar to the top again with 80 proof or higher alcohol, brandy or vodka. Fill again in a couple days, to the top. Let steep for 6 weeks or more. Decant into another jar by pouring off and squeezing liquid out of herb material through cheesecloth. Thank the plant for its uses and compost it. Label and date your jar of tincture.

How To Make An Herbal Oil and Salve

Harvest the herb just as in tincture-making but dry it for a day or so out of sunlight. Tear or cut the herb into one inch pieces and pack tightly into a jar, to the top. Fill the jar to the top with oil (cold pressed, organic olive, coconut or other oil). In a couple days, fill again to the top if some oil has soaked in. Keep a lid on the jar and let it sit on a plate in the sun for six weeks, no more. Some oil will seep out. Check for mold and scrape off as needed. After six weeks, decant the oil into a jar and squeeze any oil out of the herb material through cheesecloth. Thank the plant and compost it.
To make a salve, take a bit of beeswax (1/2 to 1 t.) and melt it on the stove. Take it off the heat, stir in the herbal oil and pour immediately into your salve container. It will set. Adjust beeswax amount to desired consistency and re-do if needed.

When I arrived home, Ronnie commented on how much his thumb was hurting; a box cutter slice to the nail line of his thumb.  I immediately went out, grabbed some yarrow leaves and band-aid’d these to his cut.  Have I mentioned how thankful I am to have such a patient, kind man?  So here he sits at the kitchen table, with a bandaged thumb that has leaves sticking out of the top and bottom of the band-aid.  Wish I had taken a picture.  He even put a piece in his nose to see if it would actually cause a nose bleed.  No blood, no pain relief.  Hmmm.  My theory is that the leaf is better used to create a salve which will coat the wound.  *giggles*

Previously I wrote about using lard to make a salve.  A discussion from first aid class had me rethink this.  Using butter or lard on, say, a burn is not a good idea as it helps to trap the heat and make the injury worse.  That burning feeling you get after a burn means that tissue damage is still occurring.  Lots of cold water first and then aid cream and a sterile bandage.  So I have to ask those that are familiar with using lard in salves, what have you seen heard about using animal fat in a first aid treatment; does it go rancid easily?  Beeswax would be good; around here, lard is easier to find.

What do you suggest?

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July 22, 2010 Posted by | family, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glorious raspberries

In my solitude, I have not been idol.  This evening, while Ronnie was bowling and the girls were out with friends, I went to pick raspberries with my neighbor, Pat; we each walked away with a bucket full.  Now I am back to IMG_1807 where I was a few days ago – what to do with all these raspberries.  Pat is going to use a freezer jam recipe.  I am conflicted on whether to make jam or syrup.

The recipe I decided to use is this one from Epicurious:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (1 liter) raspberries

Now here I just used 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of raspberries.  In the reviews, others found the 4 cups to be a bit much.

1. Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 15 minutes. (Warm sugar dissolves better.)

2. Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Add warm sugar, return to a boil, and boil until mixture will form a gel (see tips, below), about 5 minutes.

4. Ladle into sterilized jars and process as directed for Shorter Time Processing Procedure .

What I found most interesting is what is next. . . IMG_1808

To determine when the mixture will form a gel, use the spoon test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later — the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.

“The intensity of this jam is due to the fact that it has no added fruit pectin,” says Topp. Adding pectin helps the jam jell, but necessitates more sugar, which dilutes the natural flavor of the fruit. Making jam without added pectin requires more careful cooking (see notes about the spoon test, above), but the extra effort pays off in a deliciously old-fashioned, fruity product.

It was in the comments where someone said that raspberries have natural pectin – in the seeds. That is a claim I’ll need to research.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

IMG_1813*UPDATE*  I believe this needs to boil longer and reduce down.  Mine is a syrup, which is fine ’cause that is what I was hoping for.  Using a sieve, some of the seeds were removed and, in hindsight, more will be removed next time.  No worries though – great stuff!

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Canning, recipes | , , , | 2 Comments

Cordials are brewing

Yesterday, Kathie inspired me with her cordial comments; so much so that before heading out to class I started two cordials, raspberry and one with lemon balm and lavender.  The lemon balm is only a half pint as the heat has caused the lavender blooms to turn brown (don’t think I’ve ever seen this happen before) and mint bugs have been munching on the lemon balm (planted next to).  No pix, sorry.  The recipes I am using can be found on the right side column under Must Remembers titled *Hic.

This morning, Ronnie harvested three cherry tomatoes from the garden – yippee!  This is a hybrid plant so there can be no seed saving – these little fruits are pretty.  And tasty.  Again, no pictures.  With classes consuming much of my time, garden time has been not as frequent as I would like.  The next semester, that begins the latter part of August, will have mostly at home studies thus allowing more time outside while the sun is shining and then study time inside when the sun sets.  Potatoes have not done much this year and we are not sure why – a load of manure, tilled under and allowed to sit over the winter, will correct many of our gardening challenges (or so I believe); dill is blooming, beans growing, grapes ripening, etc.

While on the cordial kick, JoyceAnn of Feather Spirits introduced this next website to me.  Her article about plantain reminded me that we have a slew of this herb growing in the yard and… I believe I can make some salve.  This recipe seems easy enough:

Healing salve: In large non-metallic pan place 1lb. of entire Plantain plant chopped, and 1 cup lard, cover, cook down on low heat till all is mushy and green. Strain while hot, cool and use for burns, insect bites, rashes, and all sores. Note: used as night cream for wrinkles.

Walmart carries lard; perhaps I can snag some this weekend.  Why not now, you ask?  Cause tomorrow we are headed out on the bike to ride; no particular destination, just ride and stop when we are ready.  Other bikes are joining us so it will not be quite as spontaneous as if Ronnie and I were going solo, still be a nice, cheap get-away.  We will return on Sunday, about the time when the girls are returning from spending a week with their dad.   I hope to have more soon, including my current knitting project.  Perhaps a delayed post for tomorrow or over the weekend.

July 15, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening, herbs, recipes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Pickled Burdock

Who doesn’t have this weed herb growing in the side or back yard?  Yes, some have maticulous gardens/yards – I am not one of those.  Growing weeds herbs outside is easy, it is when I bring them inside that the challenge begins.

Anyway, I was looking for ways to take advantage of this prolific herb and found this recipe for pickled burdock!  Pickling things is easy, assuming you can wait to open the jar.

Instructionsburdock_leaves_spring

Things You’ll Need:
  • 3 lbs. burdock root
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 7 1/2 cups water
  • Saucepan
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 slices of ginger
  • Canning jars
  1. Collect your fresh burdock root by foraging for it in the wild. The root can also be found in health food stores or Asian markets.
  2. Use a sharp knife to remove the rough skin from the burdock. Slice the root at an angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Set the root pieces aside.
  3. Mix the salt and water in your pan over low heat. Let the salt dissolve, and then pour it over the burdock until it is completely covered.
  4. Let the burdock sit in the salted water for 24 hours.
  5. Drain and rinse the burdock under cold water.
  6. Sterilize jars by filling them half full with water and microwaving them long enough for the water to boil for one minute.
  7. Fill your jars with the burdock root.
  8. In the pan, slowly bring the vinegar, garlic, and ginger to a boil over low heat.
  9. Fill the jars with the brine until the burdock root is completely covered.
  10. Cover and store your pickled burdock in a dark, cool place for a month before opening the jar. Your pickled burdock can be stored for up to a year.

There are many recipes online for cooking burdock root.  If I can dig some up, I’ll show you what it looks like.  Have you used burdock root before?

July 11, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , | 4 Comments

Red Clover

July is almost half over and I feel as if life has picked up the pace and I am being swept away.  A big bottle of cheap vodka and grand plans for herb tinctures is still a plain bottle of vodka and, well, no tinctures.  *sighs*  I am trying to catch up on blog reading and found Joyce Ann’s post about  making red clover syrup.  I have read other bloggers ‘speak’ of the benefits of red clover and, since is it growing in the side yard, thought I’d try my hand at it.  Joyce Ann is having issues with Blogger so the link to her recipe can be found here.  There are several recipes available on the link page (red clover lemonade, red clover rice, etc); this is the one I want to try:

Red clover blossom syrup

This syrup can be a great Christmas present as it is canned so one can make lots of it. RedClover

Ingredients The main ingredient is 1 quart of red clover blossoms.

Other ingredients are:
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cups sugar
½ lemon or orange (organic if possible) chopped, peel and all
1 Tbsp beet juice or berry juice (Optional)
Remember: The citrus is optional. Using the citrus will give the syrup an orangey or lemony flavor. In case you want the pure red clover flavor instead, don’t use the citrus. Both ways still make for a fantastic treat.
Preparation
1.) The blossoms and water are put in a pot
2.) They are then simmered gently for 15- 20 minutes and the heat subsequently turned off. Then cover and let sit overnight.
3.) The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.
4.) Sugar and sliced citrus are then added and heat slowly, stirring now and again for several hours or until reduced to thick syrup that looks like honey.
5.) One can add 1 Tbsp of beet juice or berry juice to help color the syrup as its brownish like maple syrup. (Optional)
6.) Can in ½ pint or 1 pint Jars.
This recipe makes a little more than 1 pint. One can triple or quadruple this and make more than one batch when they are in season to have enough for the whole year.

I am so excited!!

July 10, 2010 Posted by | Canning, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , | 2 Comments

Patty cake, Patty cake

K14 came home this afternoon and stated that she needed to make a Miss Havisham cake.  You are probably wondering, as I was, what is a ‘Miss Havisham’ cake?  As it turns out, it is the old wedding cake found in the book Great Expectations.  I’d forgotten that A16 made one last year.

Commercial cake mix is not something we keep at the house; We found  this one.  It mixed up nicely and cooked up easily. 

How to make Homemade Yellow Cake Mix:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and non-fat dry milk. Store in an airtight container or baggie. Keeps well in the pantry for months!
To replace in recipes calling for a yellow cake mix:

Use in any recipe calling for a yellow cake mix as a base (add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla to the recipe along with the cake mix as the recipe will assume vanilla was included in the store-bought mix).

Or to make a basic yellow cake, use the following instructions.

Cake mix directions:.

1 recipe Homemade Yellow Cake Mix
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs

Place Homemade Yellow Cake Mix in a bowl. Add water, vanilla, butter, and eggs. Combine with an electric mixer then beat two more minutes. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 350-degrees, using these baking times (watch carefully as your oven may vary–test for doneness using a toothpick):IMG_1204

8″ or 9″ cake rounds — 25-30 minutes
13 x 9 pan — 40-45 minutes
cupcakes — 15-20 minutes
tube/bundt pan — 45-50 minutes

Don’t overbake! You’ll dry out your cake.

This cake was baked in the wood stove and even thought it is supposed to be an old cake, we still wanted it to be eatable.  Because we ran out of butter, she used one 13×9 cake pan and then cut the cake into halves and then one half into half again to create layers.  It turned out very nicely; K14 said it tasted like a sugar cookie – and it did!  The icing was a bit on the runny side since I ran out of butter and had to borrow a stick from the neighbor (thanks Pat!)

*whew*  Project complete!

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Almond Butter

I really enjoy almond butter; it is a food I miss since moving to Bath County.  We went to Food Lion this morning and they have almond butter in the health food section for $7  (roughly) a jar.  Too rich for my taste; instead we spent $3.?? for 12 oz of roasted nuts so I could make my own.

Blanching went well.  The naked beauties were then slipped some into the blender.  Well, that makes a nice almond meal.  This meal collects along the sides of the blender and does not turn into ‘butter’.  Hmmm.  What if I throw the mix into my mini processor.  This makes a finer meal, still no butter.  More reading resulted in the need to add a touch of oil if the butter was too dry – and that worked. I used canola – still not what I remember eating from the jar.

This ‘butter’ is light in color; the almond butter I’ve bought before included the skins so the next batch will not be blanched.

Hope your weekend was enjoyable!

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | 2 Comments

Friday remembers

There are some exceptional articles today and this list is so I have the info handy and, well, it is well worth a read.

*whew* all this has inspired me to remake our bedroom > I am overcome by the urge to declutter…again!  I’ll post pictures as soon as I’m done.  

May 14, 2010 Posted by | politics, recipes, repurpose | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My fav for you!

Many many years ago I bought a cook book, Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson & Mary Beth Lagerborg.  My book looks different than the one pictured in the link and I do not know if the recipe I am going to share is even included.  I bought this at a time when boxed and canned food was the way to go.  This favorite, even for my girls, is Crustless Spinach Quiche.  There are only two forms in which my girls will eat spinach: raw and this recipe.

  • 1 – 10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 bunch chopped green onion bulbs (without greens)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 – 16 oz carton low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups grated, mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c crouton crumbs
  • Cook spinach according to the package directions, and squeeze to remove liquid.  Combine spinach, green onions, eggs, cottage cheese and cheddar cheese.  Put into a quiche pan or 10-inch pie plate treated with nonstick spray.  Bake uncovered in a preheated 325 oven for 1 hour, adding crouton crumbs the last 15 minutes.

Now this recipe is not, as written,  100-mile diet friendly.  Modify, modify, modify.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | , , | 2 Comments

It’s what for dinner

While Ronnie is traveling with his bro (on motorcycles to bike week), I am taking the opportunity to torture err to try some new lentil recipes.   This one looked tasty, easy to fix and I had everything already on hand.  *sighs*  such grand ideas.  It is my belief that I am genetically predisposed to be unable to fix a decent red lentil dish.  Leftovers are in the fridge though I believe they will end up in the compost pile.

What did turn out well is the bread pudding made from some of last week’s  stale bread.  Teresanoelleroberts over at HMWW wrote about not wasting food; she is reading Sharon Astyk’s book, Depletion and Abundance.  This reminded me that after making bread last week, I have some going stale – what a perfect solution!  Off I went to the web to find a tried ‘n true recipe.

Now that is easier said than done.  I was hoping to find one published by one of the many blogs that I read – nope.  Not saying recipes are not there, I could not find ’em.  I ended up using this recipe.

Original Recipe Yield 1 – 8 inch square pan

Ingredients

  • 6 slices day-old bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

along with the rum sauce recipe here:

  • Rum Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

1. While the pudding bakes, prepare the rum sauce. Whisk together 3 tablespoons skim milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in 1 tablespoon rum and 1/4 cup white sugar; bring to a boil. Slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

2.  Pour rum sauce over warm pudding. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The sauce will continue to thicken and form a beautiful glaze.

Sounds yummy yes?  It was sooo easy and made the kitchen smell of vanilla and cinnamon.  Mmmm.  I had some for breakfast this morning!

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Homemakers Who Work, recipes | , , , , , | Leave a comment